Expert tips for getting the most from your graphic designer

Pantone cards splayed out

Many businesses struggle to find the right visuals for their marketing campaign or website, even when they use professional graphic designers. This can be frustrating at the best of times and although it may be tempting to blame the graphic designer, the problem could be more to do with your approach and expectations.

There are a few factors you need to take into account when you are trying to get the most out of your graphic designer, here are some thoughts.

Who comes up with the ideas?

Professional graphic designers are trained and qualified to translate ideas and instructions into a final visual product. Not necessarily to generate the ideas in the first place. Is your graphic designer constantly coming up with dull, generic or uninspiring material that does not meet your requirements? Have you stopped to consider whether you are providing them with a well thought out concept – or are you expecting them not only to design and produce your material but to come up with the original ideas too? Too many businesses expect their graphic designer to fulfil a ‘creative’ role in coming up with innovative and visionary ideas as well as produce the end result. On the other hand, professional ad agencies hire specific people to create the concepts and then direct their copywriters and designers to transform the concept into a reality. If you are going direct to a graphic designer, then you could be missing quite a few pieces of the puzzle.

Do you give clear briefs?

If you constantly have to revise material or make changes, it may be worth giving some thought to how you are briefing your graphic designer. Without detailed, easy to follow instructions, your graphic designers may be floundering around in the dark. Once you, or someone else, has come up with a good visual concept for your material, it then needs to be communicated clearly if it is going to be translated into reality to everyone’s satisfaction. A good, clear brief can usually save you time and money on revisions, so it is well worth paying attention to.

Who is your project manager?

Once your graphic designer has come up with visual marketing materials that you are happy with, who arranges the printing, distribution and organisation of the finished materials? Expecting your designers to double up as project managers as well may be unrealistic and unfair. Graphic design and project management are two very different skill sets!

Having clearly defined roles within your organisation and with outside contractors, can help you save time, headaches, money and stress. Make sure you are not putting too much burden on your staff and you may be rewarded with higher quality work and a more motivated team.

  • Hi Jo,
    I really think this is a great article, but perhaps skewed to those larger companies that have a graphic designer on staff.
    As the proprietor of a small graphic design firm, I don’t entirely agree with your points regarding idea generation and briefing.
    I believe any designer worth his/her salt should be skilled at asking the right questions to produce a succinct brief on behalf of the client – it should not be the client’s responsibility to provide a clear & complete brief.
    It’s my opinion that most designers crave the opportunity to generate creative ideas and we LOVE clients who trust our skills and value great design.
    If you are truly a “professional designer”, these ARE skills that you have been trained in. It is, as with anything, often the case of “you get what you pay for”… if you’re paying $12 an hour then it’s unlikely you’ll get anything other than typesetting skills.
    Kind Regards, Lisa 🙂

  • The tips are very useful in getting more stuff from the graphic designer and it helpful for the beginners. By following these tips we can get the best website with new ideas.